Here are how a criminal law case will begin and proceed over time.
ArrestA criminal prosecution typically starts with an arrest by a police officer. There are a few reasons why a police officer may arrest a person. One case would be if the officer observes the person committing a crime. Another would be if the officer has a probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed by that person. Another situation would be if the officer makes the arrest under the authority of a valid arrest warrant. Once the arrest has occurred, the police will book the suspect and place them in custody. If only a minor offense was committed, there’s a chance that the police may issue a citation to the suspect with instructions to reappear in court at a set date.
BailIf a suspect in police custody is granted bail, the suspect may pay the bail amount in exchange for a release. However, the release is contingent on the suspects promises to appear at the court proceedings that follow. Sometimes bail may be granted immediately after booking, or it could be at a later bail review hearing. A suspect could also be released on his own recognizance.
If a suspect is released on his own recognizance, bail is not required, but a written agreement to appear at all scheduled court dates is a requirement. Own recognizance release is generally granted after the court considers the seriousness of the offense that was committed, as well as the criminal record, threat to the community, and ties to family and employment.
ArraignmentThis is where the suspect will make their first appearance at the arraignment. During this time, the judge will read the charges filed against the defendant in the complaint, and the defendant chooses to either plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” to the charges. This is also when the judges will review the defendant’s bail and set dates for the future proceedings.
Preliminary HearingThis could be by a “bill of information” secured by a preliminary hearing or by a grand jury indictment. Cases must be brought by indictment in the federal system, but states are free to use either process.
Pre-Trial MotionsPre-trial motions are brought by the prosecution and the defense. The goal is to resolve all final issues and establish what evidence and testimony will be used in the trial.
TrialAt the trial, the judge or the jury will either determine that the defendant is guilty or not guilty. The prosecution will bear the burden of proof in a criminal trial. This means that the prosecutor has to prove without any doubt that the defendant committed the crimes charged. The defendant does have a constitutional right to a jury trial in many criminal matters. A judge or jury will make the final determination of guilt or innocence after listening to opening and closing statements, examination, as well as the cross-examination of witnesses and jury instructions.
In the case that a jury failed to come to a unanimous verdict, the judge could declare a mistrial, which means that the case will either be dismissed or a new jury will be chosen. Of course, if the judge or jury finds the defendant guilty, the court will then sentence the defendant.
SentencingAt this point in a criminal case, the court will assign the appropriate punishment for the convicted defendant. To determine a suitable sentence, the court will then consider several factors. This could include several different factors, like the nature and severity of the crime, the defendant’s criminal history, the defendant’s personal circumstances, as well as the degree of remorse that is felt by the defendant.
AppealAt long last, an individual convicted of a crime may ask that his or her case be reviewed by a higher court. If the court finds that there was an error in the case or the sentence imposed - the court may reverse the conviction or find that the case needs to be re-tried.
Gibbons Law Firm represents clients in all types of felony and misdemeanor cases. We have successfully tried hundreds of criminal cases of all types, and we are committed to providing clients with criminal defense services that will ensure their rights are protected and they are treated fairly. Find out more about how we can assist you by contacting our Firm and making an appointment today. Call for a free consultation - 573-348-2211
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